Finer-Resolution Mapping of Global Land Cover: Recent Developments, Consistency Analysis, and Prospects

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Journal profile

The Journal of Remote Sensing, an Open Access journal published in association with AIR-CAS, promotes the theory, science, and technology of remote sensing, as well as interdisciplinary research within earth and information science.

Editorial board

The Journal of Remote Sensing’s editorial board is led by Yirong Wu (Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences) and is comprised of experts who have made significant and well recognized contributions to the field.

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Accepting submissions for 6 special issues! Visit our Special Issues page to learn more about these issues, which focus on Google Earth Engine, radiation transfer modeling, deep learning, time series analysis, China's contemporary satellites, and developing open-source remote sensing data products.

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Research Article

The Simulation of L-Band Microwave Emission of Frozen Soil during the Thawing Period with the Community Microwave Emission Model (CMEM)

One-third of the Earth’s land surface experiences seasonal freezing and thawing. Freezing-thawing transitions strongly impact land-atmosphere interactions and, thus, also the lower atmosphere above such areas. Observations of two L-band satellites, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) missions, provide flags that characterize surfaces as either frozen or not frozen. However, both state transitions—freezing and thawing (FT)—are continuous and complex processes in space and time. Especially in the L-band, which has penetration depths of up to tens of centimeters, the brightness temperature () may be generated by a vertically-mixed profile of different FT states, which cannot be described by the current version of the Community Microwave Emission Model (CMEM). To model such complex state transitions, we extended CMEM in Fresnel mode with an FT component by allowing for (1) a varying fraction of an open water surface on top of the soil, and (2) by implementing a temporal FT phase transition delay based on the difference between the soil surface temperature and the soil temperature at 2.5 cm depth. The extended CMEM (CMEM-FT) can capture the progression from a completely frozen to a thawed state of the contributing layer as observed by the L-band microwave radiometer ELBARA-III installed at the Maqu station at the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. The extended model improves the correlation between the observations and CMEM simulations from 0.53/0.45 to 0.85/0.85 and its root-mean-square-error from 32/25 K to 20/15 K for H/V-polarization during thawing conditions. Yet, CMEM-FT does still not simulate the freezing transition sufficiently.

Research Article

Estimation of Larch Growth at the Stem, Crown, and Branch Levels Using Ground-Based LiDAR Point Cloud

Tree growth is an important indicator of forest health and can reflect changes in forest structure. Traditional tree growth estimates use easy-to-measure parameters, including tree height, diameter at breast height, and crown diameter, obtained via forest in situ measurements, which are labor intensive and time consuming. Some new technologies measure the diameter of trees at different positions to monitor the growth trend of trees, but it is difficult to take into account the growth changes at different tree levels. The combination of terrestrial laser scanning and quantitative structure modeling can accurately estimate tree structural parameters nondestructively and has the potential to estimate tree growth from different tree levels. In this context, this paper estimates tree growth from stem-, crown-, and branch-level attributes observed by terrestrial laser scanning. Specifically, tree height, diameter at breast height, stem volume, crown diameter, crown volume, and first-order branch volume were used to estimate the growth of 55-year-old larch trees in Saihanba of China, at the stem, crown, and branch levels. The experimental results showed that tree growth is mainly reflected in the growth of the crown, i.e., the growth of branches. Compared to one-dimensional parameter growth (tree height, diameter at breast height, or crown diameter), three-dimensional parameter growth (crown, stem, and first-order branch volumes) was more obvious, in which the absolute growth of the first-order branch volume is close to the stem volume. Thus, it is necessary to estimate tree growth at different levels for accurate forest inventory.

Research Article

Prospects for Solar-Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence Remote Sensing from the SIFIS Payload Onboard the TECIS-1 Satellite

The importance of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) to monitoring vegetation photosynthesis has attracted much attention from the ecological and remote sensing research communities. Space-borne SIF products have been obtained owing to the rapid development of atmospheric satellites in recent years. The SIF Imaging Spectrometer (SIFIS) is a payload onboard the upcoming Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Inventory Satellite (TECIS-1) that is specifically designed for SIF monitoring. We conducted an in situ experiment to evaluate the performance of SIFIS on spectral measurement and SIF retrieval through comparison to the commercial spectrometer QE Pro. Disregarding the spatiotemporal mismatch between the collected measurements of the two spectrometers, the radiance spectra obtained synchronously by SIFIS and QE Pro showed a high level of consistency. The SIF retrieval, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and near-infrared radiance of vegetation (NIRvR) results for a push-broom image shows consistent spatial distributions over both vegetated and nonvegetated surfaces. A quantitative comparison was conducted by strictly filtering matching pixels. For the far-red band, a high correlation was obtained between the SIF retrieval performances of SIFIS and QE Pro with and . However, a relatively poor correlation was observed for the red band with an value of 0.23 and an RMSE of 0.26 mWm−2sr-−1nm−1. Despite the large uncertainties associated with this experiment, the results indicate that TECIS-1 should offer a reliable SIF monitoring performance after its launch.

Research Article

A 30 m Resolution Distribution Map of Maize for China Based on Landsat and Sentinel Images

As the second largest producer of maize, China contributes 23% of global maize production and plays an important role in guaranteeing maize markets stability. In spite of its importance, there is no 30 m spatial resolution distribution map of maize for all of China. This study used a time-weighted dynamic time warping method to identify planting areas of maize by comparing the similarity of time series of a satellite-based vegetation index at each pixel with a standard time series derived from known maize fields and mapped maize distribution from 2016 to 2020 over 22 provinces accounting for more than 99% of the maize planting area in China. Based on 18800 field-surveyed pixels at 30-meter spatial resolution, the distribution map yields 76.15% and 81.59% of producer’s and user’s accuracies averaged over the entire investigated provinces, respectively. Municipality- and county-level census data also show a good performance in reproducing the spatial distribution of maize. This study provides an approach to mapping maize over large areas based on a small volume of field survey data.

Research Article

Continued Increases of Gross Primary Production in Urban Areas during 2000–2016

Urbanization affects vegetation within city administrative boundary and nearby rural areas. Gross primary production (GPP) of vegetation in global urban areas is one of important metrics for assessing the impacts of urbanization on terrestrial ecosystems. To date, very limited data and information on the spatial-temporal dynamics of GPP in the global urban areas are available. In this study, we reported the spatial distribution and temporal dynamics of annual GPP during 2000–2016 from 8,182 gridcells (0.5° by 0.5° latitude and longitude) that have various proportion of urban areas. Approximately 79.3% of these urban gridcells had increasing trends of annual GPP during 2000-2016. As urban area proportion (%) within individual urban gridcells increased, the means of annual GPP trends also increased. Our results suggested that for those urban gridcells, the negative effect of urban expansion (often measured by impervious surfaces) on GPP was to large degree compensated by increased vegetation within the gridcells, mostly driven by urban management and local climate and environment. Our findings on the continued increases of annual GPP in most of urban gridcells shed new insight on the importance of urban areas on terrestrial carbon cycle and the potential of urban management and local climate and environment on improving vegetation in urban areas.


Advanced Information Mining from Ocean Remote Sensing Imagery with Deep Learning